Friday, August 29, 2014

Arthur T. Demoulas: Working class hero

One of New England's biggest headlines of the summer, was the ousting of Market Basket CEO Arthur T. Demoulas (Arthur T, or ATD as he's affectionately called by employees) and two other top executives by the Market Basket board of directors, who are also his family. This in itself isn't really news, as execs get axed all the time and it's just business as usual.
What happened next is where the story spikes. The employees of Market Basket, (all non Union) in a move to show solidarity for their beloved chief, Arthur T., orchestrated a grassroots workforce strike the next day; with the brutal effectiveness of a megaton bomb. The workers ultimatum: they wouldn't return to work until ATD was reinstated as chief. Yesterday, August 28, 2014, (two months later) after intense news coverage, social media bombardment and two governor's pleas, the saga came to a peaceful and amicable ending. Arthur T. and his constituents finalizing a $1.5 billion buyout, resulting in ATD having a >50% share in Market Basket, and thus, control.

"Some industry analysts put the loss from the job action at more than $10 million a day."- Bloomberg News- Market Basket Revolt Ends as Arthur T. Demoulas Wins Bid

The genesis of the argument & what was at stake, was a difference in opinion on how profits should be distributed at Market Basket: a privately held, 71 store grocery chain, with $4 billion sales/year. Arthur T. believed that the wealth should be distributed back to the employees in the form of profit sharing, whereas the Chairman, Arthur S. Demoulas and supporters felt the money was better spent giving back to the shareholders- Demoulas family members.
This is one of the greatest case studies i've been fortunate to experience and learn from, first hand. I think this summertime Market Basket fiasco represents a historical precedence in labor relations, wealth distribution and bottom line economics. As Arthur T. Demoulas, in a heartfelt victory speech to employees said yesterday-
"As I stand before you, I am in awe of what you have accomplished, and the sterling example you have all set, for so many people across the region, and across the country."
Watch the highlights here, for one of the most honest speeches i've heard in my lifetime.